"Feminist Fight Club" with Jessica Bennett

"Feminist Fight Club" with Jessica Bennett

Today’s episode features a powerful interview with Jessica Bennett – a journalist who writes on gender, sexuality, and culture. She recently authored the book Feminist Fight Club, an office survival guide for a sexist workplace that’s packed with hilarity and insights on the subtle and sneaky sexism that still exists in modern workplaces today.

Jessica talks about how women have been programmed to feel competitive with each other, whether it’s okay to cry at work, and shares practical tools and techniques for dealing with sexism at work. She also shares how she overcame imposter syndrome to write for big names like The Times, and how you can overcome self doubts too.

Subscribe and listen to the full episode here (you must subscribe to receive latest episode).

Highlighted Excerpt

Majo: Your book focuses on different aspects of dealing with a sexist workplace. You have one section around how we self-sabotage or hold ourselves back as women, and I think a lot of our listeners can probably relate to that.

You gave a lot of examples of that from your own life. I particularly loved your anecdote about writing your first column for The Times in which you reviewed the book, The Confidence Code, which is about women and imposter syndrome. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience?

Jessica: Yeah, so it was very exciting. It was my first official column, and it was my first assignment to write about this book, basically about imposter syndrome, which is the sense that women frequently get where they feel like they don’t belong or don’t deserve to be there or are somehow not good enough.

I remember sitting at my computer all ready to type out my first column, [laughs] and then having a terrible case of imposter syndrome! And thinking to myself, Why did these people even give me a column? I’m unqualified to do this, they’re going to take it away from me, I’m going to be fired… and like spiraling into this insane self-doubt cycle.

I kept typing sentences and then deleting them and re-typing them… it was a mess. And of course the irony is that I was writing about the very thing I was experiencing. But this stuff is real – it’s backed by science. Statistically speaking, women and people of color typically experience this more.

Majo: Right... So in that moment, did you realize that what you were dealing with was imposter syndrome?

Jessica: I think it was only later that I was able to look back and see that. At the time I just felt all this pressure to “achieve” in that moment, knowing that it was the first thing my editors would be reviewing… it was scary.

Majo: So how did you get the piece published in the midst of all those spiraling doubts?

Jessica: Well I was able to get the words out eventually, and I had a really amazing editor who sort of hand-held me through it and said, “We’ll make a few tweaks here and a few there, but overall this is great. This is a good column.” And it was a good column, and usually what I write is good. But there is this thing that creeps into your mind that tells you that’s not the case.

It’s interesting that I didn’t know that’s what was happening at the time, because a lot of the research shows that one of the easiest ways to overcome imposter syndrome is just to acknowledge that it’s happening. To say to yourself: Okay, this is not me, I don’t suck. This is the imposter syndrome talking. Like, literally say that to yourself in the mirror if you need to, just to make it clear that this is an issue that people face. It’s not just your issue.

Show Notes:

  • A “geeky” girl with unyielding ambition and lots of lofty goals. [2:48]
  • How she began to notice that the men around her were getting promoted faster and published more often, and how that led to uncovering an amazing story about women in the 70s who had felt the same frustration… [4:44]
  • Growing up in liberal Seattle, Jessica admits that she wasn’t always interested in gender issues, and shares how she came to form the first feminist fight club. [8:51]
  • Majo and Jessica talk about the subtle and insidious nature of sexism even in modern and progressive workplaces. [13:18]
  • Diving into her book, Feminist Fight Club: How we self-sabotage, dealing with imposter syndrome, and more. [14:01]
  • How women are programmed to feel competitive with each other: “It doesn’t have to be this way… we have the power to change this.” [18:40]
  • To cry or not to cry at work? Jessica breaks down the stigmas around crying. [23:17]
  • How communication and speech impacts the way we are perceived, and other stereotypes on how women are supposed to behave. [28:43]
  • On reclamation, and the importance of bringing humor into issues like this. [34:37]
  • How we can bring men into this conversations, the surprising thing that Jessica has reclaimed on her journey, and her advice to women. [38:14]

Subscribe and listen to the full episode here (you must subscribe to receive latest episode).

 

References:

Check out more on The Feminist Fight Club & get the book

Jessica's personal website

Music:

by Lucia Lilikoi

Episode Sponsor:

UENO

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